The Great Lakes Regional office of the National Climate Prediction center is out with their winter forecast. They're buying into a strong El Nino, which more often than not, produces milder than normal conditions during winter, especially in the Great Lakes region, which includes northern Indiana and Michigan.
Even Environment Canada is forecasting above-normal temperatures for December through February for the Canadian side of the Great Lakes basin. The U.S. Great Lakes region should see less precipitation than normal, although the signal is less clear in Canada.
All this combines to mean that if you enjoy snowmobiling, you better have a good pickup, a good trailer and lots of gas – you may be heading farther north than usual this winter.
Reduced winter recreational activities is one of the downsides of a typical El Nino winter. On the other hand, there are pluses if you live here. They include lower heating bills, less time spent pushing snow and increased retail sales. People are more likely to be out and about when they don't have to fight snow and ice on the roads as often.
If this forecast proves accurate, ice cover on the Great Lakes should be less than normal. Ice cover could be minimal in most places.
An El Nino is all about warmer sea surface temperatures in certain parts of the Pacific Ocean. These temperature variations affect barometric pressure, which in turn impacts circulation patterns aloft. These circulation patterns impact storm tracks and determine whether and where winter storms that might develop are most likely to occur. This appears to be a year where they won't be occurring in the Great Lakes region. The pattern is expected to extend into not only northern Indiana, but likely most of the way down the Hoosier state. The southern portion of Indiana may see more normal conditions.
Put another way, southern residents in Indiana may have equal odds of seeing either more, normal, or less snow than normal. And usually there is much less snow in southern Indiana than in northern Indiana anyway.